WATCH: The Life-Saving Weaving of Bolivia’s Indigenous Women

WORDS Palesa Kgasane VIDEO via Great Big Story on Vimeo

The Aymara women of Bolivia use a weaving technique to create mechanisms that are transplanted through the body to treat up to 70 % of heart ailments.


“There’s not a single machine in the world that can make these devices with just one wire,” explains Doctor Franz Freudenthal. He is a pediatric cardiologist who designed a device that fixes abnormal openings in the heart. After finding that he had the technology but not the machines, he turned to the local Bolivian women for help.

The number of heart ailments in La Paz is high and some of the weavers were themselves patients. There wasn’t a non-invasive method to treat these ailments until these brave women started weaving.

A lot of these women have been weaving since early childhood, like Veronica Viro Balboa, who talks about the patience, affection and love you need to have for weaving to do this job.

The life-saving endeavour, a combined effort between technicians and weavers, has treated more than 50 000 patients.